Diwali: Some interesting things you should know about this festival!
What is Diwali?
Deepawali, Deepavali, or Diwali is the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. It is the festival of light and marked by four days of celebration, which literally illuminates the country with its brilliance and dazzles people with its joy.
As reviewed by learnreligions.com, the Diwali festival often takes place in late October or early November. It falls on the 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartik, so it varies every year. Each of the four days in the festival of Diwali is marked with a different tradition. What remains constant is the celebration of life, its enjoyment, and a sense of goodness.
The Origins of Diwali
Historically, it can be said that Diwali relates to ancient India. It most likely began as an important harvest festival. However, there are various legends pointing to the origin of Diwali.
Someone believes that it to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, with Lord Vishnu. Others use it as a celebration of her birthday, as Lakshmi is said to have been born on the new-moon day of Kartik.
However, in Bengal, the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Lord Ganesha—the elephant-headed god and symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom—is also worshipped in most Hindu homes on this day. In Jainism, Deepawali has the added significance of marking the great event of Lord Mahavira attaining the eternal bliss of nirvana.
Diwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama (along with Ma Sita and Lakshman) from his 14-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and set off firecrackers.
|Photo: Learn Religion|
The Importance of Lights and Firecrackers in Diwali
There have been a significance and story behind the simple rituals of Diwali. Homes are illuminated with lights, and firecrackers fill the skies as an expression of respect to the heavens for the attainment of health, wealth, knowledge, peace, and prosperity.
According to one belief, the sound of firecrackers indicates the joy of the people living on earth, making the gods aware of their plentiful state. Still another possible reason has a more scientific basis: the fumes produced by the firecrackers kill or repel many insects, including mosquitoes, which are plentiful after the rains.
|The Spiritual Significance of Diwali |
Beyond the lights, gambling, and fun, Diwali is also a time to reflect on life and make changes for the upcoming year. With that, there are a number of customs that revellers hold dear each year.
Give and forgive. It is common practice that people forget and forgive the wrongs done by others during Diwali. There is an air of freedom, festivity, and friendliness everywhere.
Rise and shine. Waking up during the Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m., or 1 1/2 hours before sunrise) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work, and spiritual advancement. The sages who instituted this Deepawali custom may have hoped that their descendants would realize its benefits and make it a regular habit in their lives.
Unite and unify. Diwali is a unifying event, and it can soften even the hardest of hearts. It is a time when people mingle about in joy and embrace one another.
Some Diwali activities for kids
One of the first recommended activity is Glitterati. According to momjunction.com, diyas and candles are popular house adornments during Diwali. Get some sparkle glue, wax and wicks for your kids and help them make candles. Just pour melted, coloured wax into a diya – make sure you wear gloves or similar safety measures so that you do not get hot wax on your or your child’s skin! Once the wax solidifies, remove it from the case and decorate it with sparkle glue.
If you live in an apartment complex or a township, then you can explore the idea of writing and/or directing a play/musical. Narrating the story of Lord Rama’s win over evil and his triumphant return to his people in Ayodhya can be a good story to play. Let the kids showcase their talent during the Diwali celebrations and get over their ‘stage-fright’ (in case they have any!)
If your kid is fond of cooking, this wouldn’t be a bad time to introduce your child to the culinary art! Teach your child some special Diwali-special meals like kheer, sheera, gujiya, mathri, etc. Diwali is, after all, a grand reason for cooking all kinds of delicacies one’s culture is famous for, whichever part of the world it may be.
The tradition of Rangoli is famous in India. This is one Diwali activity for kids that will allure them especially girls. A few packets of coloured powder and a few great designs from the internet are enough to keep your kids occupied during the holidays. You never know, your house might just end up having the most mesmerizing Rangoli on the eve of Diwali!
Get some paper and paints for your kids (and maybe some inspiration in the form of downloaded pictures) and help them make Diwali greeting cards for all your close friends and family. Imagine the smile on your relatives’ face when they see a pretty little card sitting on top of their gift basket.
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